’90s nostalgia is in full swing, and horror fans are loving it. Many people are revisiting movies they grew up with, while others are discovering those same titles for the first time. And it’s not only cinematic terror that has everyone talking.
Over the past couple of years, the interest in retro books has been on the rise. Combined with ’90s sentimentality, teen horror fiction from the decade has become a special niche for collectors, many of whom are part of Instagram’s enthusiastic community of “bookstagrammers.”
A large portion of the teen horror titles released during the ’90s are now available in e-book format, but the original editions with their colorful covers and witty taglines are the ones we look for while perusing the shelves of used bookstores.
Here at Daily Dead, during a series of seasonal posts, I’m going to be sharing books from my own collection. This go-round, I’m focusing on winter-themed titles. So, here it is… ’90s Teen Horror Books: Winter Edition.
Silent Night 3 (1996) by R.L. Stine
’Tis the season… to die.
Featuring one of Stine’s most notoriously hated protagonists, Reva Dalby, the Silent Night series is full of Christmas season mayhem. Released as a Fear Street “Super Chiller,” the book makes no qualms about Reva’s personality, even going as far as calling her “snobby” on the back cover. Whether or not Stine intended the Silent Night books to be morality tales, Reva continues to be a character that Fear Street fans love to hate.
Santa Claws (1991) by Nicholas Adams
‘Tis the season… to be killed.
Nicholas Adams is a pen name of several authors who wrote teen horror during the 1990s. The name is behind such titles as I.O.U. and the popular Horror High series. Santa Claws is a standalone werewolf story by John Peel, who was writing under the pseudonym at the time. If you prefer monsters to flesh and blood killers for your annual dose of holiday horror, this book is right up your alley.
Freeze Tag (1992) by Caroline B. Cooney
Cold hands, evil heart….
Caroline B. Cooney is well known for her “elemental” teen horror books The Fire, The Fog, and The Snow. For me, Freeze Tag continues that theme. Published under Scholastic’s Point Horror label, Freeze Tag tells the story of Lannie Anveill, a girl who is able to freeze others to death. As usual, Cooney’s writing is full of unexpected descriptions and phrases that help create a strange and unusual tone.
Field Trip (1991) by Jeff Hammer
A night in an old Colonial village turns into a lesson in history, mystery… and bloody terror
Similar to many Point Horror titles, Field Trip, which was published by Avon Flare, combines the ingredients of traditional whodunits with those of the slasher genre. Teen slashers are notable for finding ways to get a group of teenagers together in a unique location where they can be picked off one by one. Here, it is on a school field trip to a historic Colonial village. With snowy weather added to the setting, Field Trip is an atmospheric read for a cold winter night.
Ski Weekend (1991) by R.L. Stine
It was a perfect setting—for murder!
During what is supposed to be a fun-filled weekend, a winter blizzard forces a group of friends to a mountain lodge where they are faced with an all-too-real nightmare. The setup is simple, but it works. Right off the bat, Stine drops the characters into a situation that is beyond their control. It is a trick that works to the story’s advantage. By having the characters isolated from home, the book is able to build suspense with laser-like focus.
The Nightmare Club: Slay Ride (1993) by Nick Baron
Join… if you dare!
The Nightmare Club is an eleven-book series by several authors and was published between 1993 and 1994. Despite the silly cover art, Slay Ride is a much darker tale than one would likely expect. The plot of bullying and harassment is timely, and the writing is heavier than 90s teen horror books that straddle the line between middle-grade and YA. Slay Ride sits firmly on the side of a more mature audience. Think Are You Afraid of the Dark?’s Midnight Society for an older crowd.
Winterkill (1991) by Nicole Davidson
“You’re next to die!”
Imagine a cross between Jeff Hammer’s Field Trip and R.L. Stine’s Ski Weekend, and you’ll wind up with something similar to Davidson’s Winterkill. A mystery/whodunit set on the slopes, the story follows Karen, who has recently moved with her family to a small town with the tongue-in-cheek name of Killington, Vermont. Winterkill is classic ’90s teen horror with a cast of characters from which any one of them could be the killer.
The New Year’s Party (1995) by R.L. Stine
When midnight strikes… they all die.
I’m a firm believer that there is a horror story for every holiday. The New Year’s Party bears a striking structural resemblance to some of Stine’s other work. Additionally, readers are treated to numerous fun and to-be-expected tropes—chapters that end with cliffhangers, pranks, and fake-out deaths. For fans of ’90s teen horror, The New Year’s Party is perfect reading for the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
There you have it—eight ’90s teen horror titles for the winter. What are some of your personal favorites? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to share photos from your own collection via Instagram and Twitter, using #DailyDeadTeenRetro.
[Photo Credit: All photos by Bryce Gibson.]